- Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War -
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Royal Army Medical Corps
- 3 CCS, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 3rd Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 10 Coy, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 12 CCS, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 12coy, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 13th Field Hygene Section, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 14th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 18 Coy, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 145th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 146th West Riding Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 153rd Highland Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
- 214th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
4th Jun 1940 With the Wounded
8th Jun 1940 On the Move
27th Jul 1940 On the Move
1st Aug 1940 Wounded Moved
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
Royal Army Medical Corps
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Adams Charles Walter. S/Sgt.
- Andrew George Donaldson. Medical Orderly
- Ashdown John Richard. Pte. (d.7th Aug 1944)
- Atkinson George. Pte.
- Baker Leslie.
- Blane Jack. L/Cpl.
- Briggs William.
- Briggs William. Sgt.
- Briggs William. Sgt.
- Brodie Andrew Sinclair.
- Brookes William E.. Mjr.
- Brown Dennis. Pte.
- Burgess Denis John. Capt. (d.14th Feb 1945)
- Chesshire John Stanley I'anson. Capt.
- Clark Earnist.
- Clarke Henry William.
- Cochrane Ernest Edward. Pte.
- Collings Douglas Arthur.
- Collinson Henry. Pte. (d.24th Jan 1944)
- Comrie James Anderson. Sgt.
- Crawford William. Pte.
- Cullenat Patrick James.
- Cursons Sydney James.
- Donald Charles.
- Edwards Ernest. Captain
- Fitch Patrick. Sgt. (d.4th Sep 1944)
- Fogell Cecil Charles.
- Gardner Joseph. Pte.
- Garrod William Leonard. Pte. (d.6th Dec 1943)
- Godfrey Harry. Pte.
- Gould .
- Graham Arthur. RSM.
- Graham William. Cpl.
- Guy Walter John.
- Hardman Charles J.. Rfm.
- Herrett George. Sgt
- Hewes Stanley. Pte.
- Hoggart Len.
- Holzner Henry. Mjr.
- Howard Albert. Private
- Howe Percy . Major
- Jacob Herbert Starling Manning. Lt.
- Key Bert.
- Kinnear James Stirling. Major
- Knox Robert James. Sgt.
- MacRitchie Alistair Crawford Cameron. L/Cpl
- Mathew Lancelot Jude. Pte.
- Mc Knight William Schofield.
- Mcknight Thomas.
- Mcloughlin John Edward. Pte.
- Miller Hugh Davidson. Captain
- Murray Alisdair . (d.May 1940)
- Nolan Maurice. Pte.
- O'Brien Samuel N.M.I.. Pte.
- O'Callaghan Daniel. Cpl.
- Pattison Cecil. Pte.
- Reed Robert. Sgt
- Reid Graham William Porter. Sgt.
- Reith H..
- Roach Horace A. A.. Sgt
- Roach Horace Arthur Austin. Sgt.
- Roberts John Edward. Capt.
- Rowe Edmund Boyce. Mjr.
- Ruddy William. Pte.
- Shaughnessy John. Pte.
- Shrigley John. L/Cpl.
- Smith Andrew Hall. Sgt.
- Smith John Blackhaw. Pte.
- Smith Leslie Arthur. Pte.
- Smith Reginald Walter. Cpl.
- Smyth Colin. Pte.
- Stephens Thomas. Capt.
- Stevens Frederick. Pte.
- Stradling Edward Herbert. Sgt.
- Stroud Basil Edgar. Sgt.
- Tossell Richard George.
- Townsend Albert Edward. RSM.
- Vickers George. Pte.
- Walker Ray.
- Walton Ernest John. Pte. (d.8th Feb 1944)
- Weeks . S/Sgt.
- Witt Edward George. Pte.
- Wong Arthur.
- Wood Albert Edward . Corporal
- Wood James Walter.
- Wooding John Edward. Capt.
- Wright Andrew . Pte.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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There are 17 pages in our library tagged Royal Army Medical Corps These include information on officers service, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.
Private Albert Howard 214 Field Ambulance, 'B' Company Royal Army Medical Corps.Albert Howard was my uncle, who was born 5th October 1919 in Londons' East End, the son of a Port of London Authority policeman also named Albert. Shortly before the outbreak of WW2 he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps as 7348810 Pte. Howard, A.E. He joined 'B' Company of 214 Field Ambulance. By Christmas 1942 his unit was in North Africa, from where he sent my mother a Photostat greetings card, which I have inherited together with a number of Aerogram letters. In one dated June 1943, he writes of spending four days in a rest camp, where "... there is good swimming in the sea and a bus service to the town, where there are good service clubs and cinemas. You know that the King came out here recently, and we were inspected by him. I need not say what sort of preparations had to be made for the Royal visit!!!" In October 1943 he writes: "I can now tell you what you may already have guessed, that we are in Italy." He continues: "The towns are not up to much now, as you can imagine, but the people received us in a fairly friendly fashion." Later that month he writes: "We are in action in Italy, as you may have guessed. It is not too bad really. Sometimes we are very busy, and sometimes there is very little to do. The worst thing is the noise, which at times is deafening. Most of it is ours though. We get a lot of shelling now and again - though not dangerously close." On 23rd December '43 he writes: "...There is not much doing here at present, except getting ready for Christmas. He sent a few quite brief Photostat letters until 25th June 1944, when he reported that he had been in hospital suffering from impetigo, which had cleared up nicely. That however must have been when he 'went into the bag.' His next communication is a 'Kriegsgefangenpost' card from Stalag IXA, where he has become POW Nr 142942. I have two of these postcards dated late in 1944, which are written in pencil, and are reassuring, if necessarily extremely brief. He was repatriated late in 1945, and married the Red Cross nurse who had been assigned to look after him. I remember him telling us afterwards that early in 1945 gunfire could be heard in the camp, and seemed to be getting nearer in the East than in the West. Then one morning they woke up to find the guards gone, and the camp gates open. The prisoners gathered to discuss what should be done. Many favoured sitting tight waiting to be liberated. My uncle Bert was among those who feared that the Russians might well get there before the Allies, and take them into a new captivity. He joined a group who decided to set out on foot westwards, in the hope of reaching the advancing Allies. Hungry and nearly exhausted after several days on the road, they reached an abandoned farm, where there were still a few cows and some chickens. With shelter and the promise of milk, eggs and meat available, it was decided to hole up there and hope that the Allies would reach them first. During the weeks that followed they were able to trade eggs, milk and vegetables for cigarettes, German sausages & other valuables with the fleeing troops and refugees who passed, until the Allies did actually arrive. He went on to have a successful career and raise five sons before he died in 1981.Brian Boyle
William Schofield "Mac " Mc Knight Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father william Mc Knight became a POW on Crete where he gave himself up as he was ill and the Cretians who were hiding him had no medicine. He was in Stalag 8b where he took part in a concert of the Mikado, he was one of the three little maids from school we did have a few photos but they were lost. If anyone remembers him or has any photos of the concert I would love to hear from you. He was repatriated at some point before March 1944 as that was when he married my mum, he spent some time in the Q.A. hospital at Shenley on his return to Britain. Any help would be greatly appreciated thankscarol powell
Bert KeyMy father, Bert Key, was in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was captured about the time of the Dunkirk evacuation. He was cut off with four other men while trying to rescue some wounded men who were needing attention. In the Camp he was in several shows which were put on and also he was in charge of the medical stores.
I was 10 when we last saw him (Christmas 1945) and 15 when he returned. What a waste of years. Mum and I missed him and we lived in London when he was missing. We heard he was a POW during the blitz and his first letter told my mother to 'take Shirley and get out of London', which she did. We were reunited just before the end of the war because he was sent back with some wounded men being repatriated because the Germans knew the Russians would arrive soon.
I regret not asking him more about the camp when he was alive - he died in 1977. He was a lovely man. I have read Sojourn in Silesia by Arthur Evans. I intend to visit the museum with my three adult children this year - any advice would be useful.Shirley Jones
Corporal Albert Edward Wood RAMCMy grandfather, Cpl. Albert Edward Wood, from Exeter, was captured at Dunkirk whilst serving at a Casualty Clearing Station (possibly #12). He drew the short straw and had to stay behind to care for the injured at the chateau overlooking the beaches. Whilst being marched to Stalag 8B he lost the use of his legs, and was carried by his comrades to avoid the Nazis shooting him by the side of the road. He spent some time in the hospital wing before being transferred to a standard barrack room. He always impressed me with the way he could serve up any meal into exactly equal portions, a skill he acquired whilst a POW. He was invalided back to England in 1944. He never really talked about the war, and always spoke with contempt about the British command that left him in France. He received two service medals, which he never had any time for, and he never applied for a Dunkirk medal or a POW medal.Philip Wood
Captain Hugh Davidson Miller George MedalDoes anyone remember a Captain Hugh Davidson Miller of the Royal Army Medical Corps? He was billeted in Scarborough, North Yorks, when it was subjected to a heavy raid on 18 March 1941 which started at 8.30pm when 98 enemy planes flew in and bombarded the town with HEs and incendaries. The raid ended with the all clear at 4.30am the next day. Fatalities were high and 3000 buildings were damaged.
Captain Miller showed bravery by crawling under a bombed house on Queens Terrace to administer morphine to those trapped, bombs were were falling around and an unexploded bomb lay only yards from him. I have searched and asked in various newspapers about the brave man as I would love to ask the Civic Society to put a plaque honouring him up on the wall of the now rebuilt house. He was awarded the George Medal at Buckingham Palace. I have tried for years to find anything about him but nothing.Richard Percy
Alisdair " " Murray (d.May 1940)We had the story from our mother, Alasdair Murray was a great friend of hers [who might have become our step-father we believe] He was killed or missing after Dunkirk. As he was a doctor in civilian life we believe he would have signed on with the RAMC. Any information from people who knew him or whose relatives heard about him would be greatly appreciated by me and my two brothers. as we three are now in our seventies we want to know where he is buried before it is too late for us. We think he would have been about 40 years old that year, but would probably have been between 36 and 45. With many thanks to anyone who can help.Elizabeth Monck
Cpl. Reginald Walter Smith 12 Company Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Father, Reginald Walter Smith, enlisted to the RAMC at Norwich in 1931, aged 17, and served as a regular soldier until 1938, when he left and entered management training with BATA Shoes Ltd, but remained on the army reserve list.
He rejoined voluntarily in June 1939, as the likelihood of war became apparent, and was mobilised as a member of 12 Company RAMC with the BEF in September 1939. He was initially stationed at No 1 Base Hospital, Rouen, and later No 2 Base Hospital.
Following the Dunkirk evacuation and as defeat in France became imminent, all personnel were ordered to leave Rouen and make for the channel ports further south, and I believe that he, and others, trekked the 200 miles to Saint Nazaire, before being taken off on the SS Oronsay.
Oronsay, despite being hit by two bombs and listing badly, went back to pick up survivors from the Lancastria, before sailing for England, and disembarking at Falmouth. Personnel were dispersed across the country, and my Father was sent to Leeds, before eventually being sent to North Africa where he remained for the duration of the war.
I would be particularly interested in any other recollections linked with my Father's time in France, especially his arrival (HS Maid of Kent?) and the period between leaving Rouen and arriving at Saint NazaireNick Fenton-Smith
Major Percy " " HoweI'm trying to find info on my Grandfather, Mjr. Percy Howe, all I know is he met my Grandmother at Caserta when she was a nurse there and he was based at Monte Cassino with the Royal Army Medical Corps.Gemma Luisa Mercurio
Major James Stirling "Seamus" Kinnear Royal Army Medical CorpsI would love to hear from anyone who served in RAMC with my father, Major James Kinnear, in Iceland, E.Africa, Normandy. The snatches of wartime reminiscence to me as a young girl in the 50's are so bitty, humorous and tragic. He went on after the war to be a great surgeon in Dundee. He died aged 67, in 1980. Please contact me with any memories or service info. Thank youElizabeth Macnee
Pte. Joseph "Smokey Joe" Gardner Royal Army Medical CorpsI am trying to find out more information about my grandfather, Joseph (Smokey Joe) Gardner during the war. He served in the RAMC and was taken Prisoner of War at Doullens in 1943 and held at Stalag XXA. On 17th October 1943 he joined a Repratraion party and was repatriated from Goteborg, Sweden in 1943. From what I understand he went back to Germany after the war ended as a member of working party to assist in the re-building of Germany. He is no longer alive and did not talk about what happened to him during the time that he was a Prisoner of War. All I can say is that he was very keen on football and I feel sure that he would have played a huge part in any matches that were held within the camp.Fiona Paterson
Pte. Andrew "Sonny" Wright Royal Army Medical CorpsI am looking for any information on my grandfather Andrew Wright's experiences during the war. We know that he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps stationed in Africa until he was transferred to defend Crete from invasion where he was captured in 1941 and spent the remainder of the war as a POW we think in Stalag 8b in Silesia Poland. He was sometimes known as Sonny and kept his spirits up by keeping pigeons and acting in plays. Does anyone remember him or have any information about him, it would be really appreciated.Frances Quinn
Patrick James Cullenat Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Granddad, Patrick Cullen, served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and I believe was captured in Belgium in 1940, unfortunately I don't know which prison camp he was held in. He enlisted in Birmingham in 1939 and was originally from the Moore Street area of Dublin. Does anyone have any information or memories? Any information will be gratefully received.Rosheen Cullen
Cpl. Daniel O'Callaghan Royal Army Medical CorpsI would like to find any one who knew my Danny O'Callaghan, he served with the 15th Scottish Division.Roy O'Callaghan
Rfm. Charles J. Hardman Kings Royal Rifle CorpsThis is about my wife's Grandfather, We know he served with valour through out WW 2, this is testament to his two sons (David & Norman) and his late wife,(Evelyn). Charles J Hardman served with the PARA Regt, KRRC, and the RAMC, and several other regiments during the war. This we know from his own personal stories. We as a family would like to re-trace his journey throughout his military career. As a career soldier myself , I would like to keep this WW2 heroes memories alive.Darren Pagett
Pte. Ernest John Walton 3rd Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps (d.8th Feb 1944)Pte Ernest J Walton of the 3rd Field Ambulance, RAMC was killed at Anzio on the 8th Feb 1944. If anyone has knowledge of what events took place this day and the preciding few days we would be very grateful.Anthony Cox
Pte. George Vickers Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, George Vickers passed away recently, whilst sorting through his paperwork I found details of his service during WW2. He was in N.W. Europe between 14.11.1944 till 29.10.1945, then he was posted to the Middle East from 19.12.1945 till 14.08.1946. I would be grateful if anyone could tell me anything that might help me find out what he did. He never talked about the war to me but he mentioned once to my brother, when pressed, that he was a stretcher bearer and he saw some awful sights.Geoff Vickers
Sgt. Graham William Porter Reid 153rd (Highland) Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsI have recently read papers belonging to my late father, Graham W P Reid who was captured at St Valery. He was in the 153rd (Highland) Field Ambulance RAMC(T) and a POW in Stalag XXa from June 1940 - January 1945. He was Camp Commandant and I have lists of many who were with him during that time and a diary of the time when they were released.
Like so many, he talked little in the 50s and 60s,except with local POWs in Aberdeen, but did begin to tell stories to our two sons in later years. I have read many of the stories from folk on this site, but have yet to find how to see the photos. Like one person says, he spoke of Camp plays with Sam Kydd.
I would so love to hear from others whose parents and grandparents may have been there with him and who might appear in his letters or on the lists.Rev Joan Foster
Medical Orderly George Donaldson Andrew Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, George Andrew, was conscripted in 1941 and served in the Medical Corps. After spells in Leeds and Lincolnshire, he was posted to Malta, and after some time there,to Kos. He was captured by the Germans(3/10/43)- although they knew the Germans were coming, escape was impossible.
After capture,he spent 15 days in a train (in a goods wagon) travelling to Stalag 4b (Muhlburg) where he lived out the rest of the war. There was one piece of ground in the camp which the prisoners were not allowed to touch (although I believe they were allowed to grow vegetables elsewhere): the bodies of Russian prisoners who had died from typhus a few years earlier were buried there.
A few weeks after VE Day, with the rumour that the Russians were coming, he managed to get out and reach the U.S.lines with a friend; they had no food but a farmer's wife cooked her "laying hen" for them. The Americans flew them to R.A.F. Northolt (in a DC-3) and father said that seeing the White Cliffs of Dover was a wonderful feeling.
My father died in January 2006, just short of his 90th birthday.Neil Andrew
H. Reith Royal Medical CorpsSir, My Uncle brought home a Swagger stick after WWII. He gave it to my mother. When my mother passed away in 1991, I started going through all her 'Stuff'. I found this Royal Medical Corp Swagger stick. I did not notice the name scratched into the stick until just recently. The name - H. Reith is scratched on the stick. I would like to know if he or any of his family would like this Swagger Stick? Can you help?Louis J Helms
Pte. John Edward Mcloughlin Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, John Mcloughlin served from aproximatly 1943 to 1946. He served in England and Germany.Peter Mcloughlin
Pte. William Leonard Garrod 12 General Hospital Royal Army Medical Corps (d.6th Dec 1943)My father William Garrod was in the RAMC in Eygpt. I am particularly interested to know more information about where the Hospitals were in Cairo Egypt, and what the Light Field Ambulance Unit did.
On 17.10.1940 my father began training at Boyce Barracks and became hospital cook 23.10.1940 with D company 1st Depot RAMC. On 9.7.1941 he was posted to 2 Depot RAMC and on 29.9.1941 he embarked to Egypt. On 21.7.1942 he became a nursing orderly at 2 General Hospital Middle East. On 23.4.1943 he moved to 42 General Hospital as a cook and on 3.4.1944 posted to 3(1) light field ambulance supplies in Egypt.On 14.4.1944 he became Hospital cook 1 at 12 General Hospital Middle East Force then on 2.6.1945 posted to 13 General Hospital, and then 16 General Hospital. On 4.9.1945 he left for UK on python 27 and on 26.10.1945 was posted to 9 company RAMC at Colchester
I have spent a number of days reading the War Diaries at the National Archives, Kew. Does anyone have any stories relating to any of these units?David Garrod
Sgt. James Anderson Comrie MID. Royal Army Medical CorpsI am trying to establish the war experiences of my father, James Anderson Comrie(born 1917. died 1990.) I know my dad served in the Second World War in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted overseas in 1941 and spent time in India. He was based at Pune and spent time in Kochima.He was in Calcutta in 1943. He was awarded the MID. He also served ,I believe, in Burma, and was awarded the Burmese Star. He was also mentioned in dispatches during the war. He never spoke of the War and any information I could glean regarding his life in India would be very precious. Photos,documents etc would be priceless.Stephen A. Comrie
Sgt Horace A. A. Roach DCM. Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, Horace Roach served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Karachi, India. I have a picture from the Gazette of him in front of Buckingham Palace with my mother and me as a baby in her arms. He received the DCM from King George.
I am trying to find out whatever happened to him as I lost contact with him in the 1960's, he had 4 children then from his 2nd marriage - Dolores, Tamara, Franscesca and Nicholas. Is there a way to find him. The last time I visited him he was working for the Civil Service and lived in Blackpool in 1965. Any information on best way to find my father, if he is still alive, would be appreciated.Maria Bradshaw
Len Hoggart Royal Army Medical CorpsI am a retired vicar and whilst in active ministry in the Footscray area near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in the mid to late 1960s, Len Hoggart approached me with his medals and asked me to look after them as the annual ANZAC anniversaries revived terrible memories for him. Mr Hoggart did not again contact me and on my current visit to England, I endeavoured to trace any surviving relatives of Mr Hoggart to pass on his medals to them. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. I would appreciate any information that might assist in locating any surviving relatives who may be interested. He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star and 1st Army Bar; ItalyDavid French
Capt. John Edward Roberts 146 Field Ambulance Army Dental CorpsI believe my father, John Roberts was in 146th Field Ambulance attached to the Hallamshires with 146th Brigade, 49th West Riding Division and went ashore on D-Day+2 on an American TLC and shortly afterwards the whole Division was, I believe, co-opted to the Canadian Army and advanced with them through France, Belgium and Holland. Ending up at Nijmegen. I was also informed that his unit relieved one of the German concentration camps.
He also related a tale whilst in Normandy of a British fighter, possibly a Spitfire, being shot down by nearby friendly fire and crashing in the field, extremely close to their marquees and ambulances.
My father survived the war and set up a dental practice in Lymington, Hampshire in 1946. He retired in 1971 and after the death of his wife in 1991 came to live with us in Jersey till his death in 2000.
Would it be possible to verify some of these details? My son and grandson are very interested in Pop's exploits because, as with many ex-servicemen,they are very reticent about many of the unpleasant memories.E.Peter Roberts
Walter John Guy 1st Btn. Parachute RegimentWalter was in the Royal Army Medical Corps until 1941. He was at Dunkirk after been diverted on his way to Panama and narrowly escaped capture but was saved by one of the many small boats that sailed to France under heavy fire.
In 1941 he joined the 1st Parachute Regiment and was caught at Arnhem and made a POW the last six months of the war. My brother thinks my dad was at Monte Cassino and I know he went to Italy, North Africa, Greece, Egypt & Arnhem not sure where else.
He also had his name in the Golden Book in Paris. He belonged to the Dunkirk Veterans and when he died they came to his funeral with the flags and I know he would have liked that. A very proud moment for us all. My brother sent £20.00 several years ago to the Army Service Records to find out about dad's service but we never knew his service number and never heard back from them. He finally forgot all about it.
Dad did not talk about what happened in the War but he suffered poor health when returning home from the War in a Lancaster bomber. We can only go by his medals. A friend described what he thought they were the 1st being the Africa star. That meant he served in Africa between 10th June 1940-12th May 1943. He said it would say either 1st or 8th Army on it. If 1st Army, he served in Tunisia or Algeria between 8th Nov-31st Dec 1942. If it is 8th Army, then he served in Egypt and Libya from 23rd Oct 1942-12th May 1943. The next medal is the Italy Star,for service in Italy and the Med between 11th June 1943-8th May 1945. The next one is the 1939-45 Star. He got this for service overseas. The one below is the 1939-45 War Medal, which he got for serving in uniform for more than 28 days. The medal with the green-orange-green ribbon is the Defence Medal. It was awarded for defence of Britain during a time of threatened enemy invasion and who served 3 years at home. The next two are foreign medals, the first is the Dunkirk Assoc Medal the other I don't know. All I can tell you is that its a Belgian Medal, but I've never seen one before.
Can anyone help me find out more please. My dad Walter John Guy was born 1919 he joined the army in 1936.Christine Guy Westall
Pte. Harry Godfrey 17th London General Hospital Royal Army Medical CorpsI am researching the wartime experiences of my late father, Private Harry Godfrey. He came from Nottingham and he was a Private in the RAMC 17th London General Hospital.
He was captured on or around 22nd May 1940 near Dunkirk and spent the next 3 and a half years in prisoner of war camps. I know he was held for a time in Stalag XXB, being released in October 1943.
Like many others he was very reluctant to talk about his experiences, only occasionally opening up and only then towards the end of his life (he died in 2004). I believe he may also have been held elsewhere but have no details. He had a close friend from Nottingham, the late Albert Alvey, who was also in the same RAMC Unit, but held separately from my father. From what my father did tell me conditions were extremely harsh, only improving a little when Red Cross parcels arrived later on. I have his camp identification tags and a couple of what appear to be receipts from the Camp authorities for items of bedding and clothing that were posted from home later on in his captivity.
My father talked very little of his experiences and I would be delighted to hear from anyone who remembers him, or from anyone who recognises themselves, or a relative in this picture. I would also be pleased to hear from anyone who was serving in the RAMC 17th or is related to someone who was.Howard Godfrey
S/Sgt. Charles Walter Adams 10 Coy. Royal Army Medical CorpsI am trying to trace my father's movements during the early part of WW2. He enlisted as a regular soldier in 1926 in the East Surrey Regiment and transferred to the RAMC in April 1929. He was graded as a superintending dispenser in 1939.
He served in Gibraltar, India, Palestine and Malaya and as far as I know, he was at Dunkirk. He was hospitalised in December 1940, posted to 12 Company in January 1941, back to 10 Company then posted to the 'Y' List and subsequently discharged in July 1941 as being permanently unfit for any form of military service. (K.R. 1940 Para 390 (XV1)
I have his Certificate of Service Book and have obtained his service records from the Historical Disclosures Section in Glasgow, but there is no mention of Dunkirk. Unfortunately, my father died in 1957 having spent many years in hospital. I would be most appreciative if anyone could give me any further information as I am only a child.Roger Adams
Pte. John Blackhaw Smith Royal Army Medical CorpsWe are researching our father's war time history, John Smith enlisted at Glasgow on 3rd april 1940. He served in Iceland, North Africa and Italy with the medical corps.Jeanie Lankshear
William Briggs Royal Army Medical CorpsThe photograph attached to this e mail is I believe the brother of my father Albert Briggs. His name is William Briggs who was born in Newcastle under Lyme Staffordshire in 1906. My paternal grandfather Frederick Briggs died in 1911 when William was just five and my father was 3yrs old. I believe my grandmother Florence (nee Norris) could not afford to keep her family together and consequently my father was sent to Ireland to live with an aunt and I am not sure where William went to, as my father could only tell me that as far as he knew William emigrated to either New Zealand or Australia. How true that is I do not know as the photograph was taken in 1936 and the National Archives have identified the uniform and badge to be that of the Medical Corps. If anyone recognises this man please get in touch.Florence Swinton
Captain Ernest Edwards Royal Medical CorpsI am trying to trace my father's military background. He was born on 11th January 1906 and passed away on 23 Oct 1977. He was a doctor who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps as part of British Indian Army from 1941-1945. He had served somewhere in the Middle East (have an old photo of him at El Alamein!!). Will be grateful for any information including the units he served with and locations where he was posted etc. Thank you Best WishesRajiv Edwards
Thomas "Mac" Mcknight Royal Army Medical CorpsI know my father Thomas Mcknight was taken prisoner at Dunkirk.I believe that because he was a medical orderley he was sent to Stalag Luft III to work in the camp medical centre. If anybody has seen his name or photograph anywhere in their relatives archives could you please post it on this site. Or if there are any surviving members of the camp who may have known my Dad could you please post the information on this site.Paul Mcknight
Pte. Stanley Hewes Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father Stanley Hewes was prisoner of war In Poland in Stalag XXA for 5 years. He will not talk about his time as a prisoner but have found out quite a bit from his mate George Hemblem from Norwich who he paled up with and keep in touch until Georges death about 5 years ago. I have recently cleared out his house because he has had to go into a home after a fall in December and came across a lot of photos.Sally Hewes
James Walter Wood Royal Army Medical CorpsMy uncle, Jim Ward, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was in uniform when he married in September 1939. He was captured in 1940 and incarcerated in Stalag 8B. He came back from the camp a broken man, I believe he may have been medically repatriated but don't know when. In the 1950s he disappeared and we never heard from him again, although he sent money to support his son's education.
Cpl. William Graham HMS SomersetshireMy late father served on the Hospital ship Somersetshire during the war as a Corporal in the RAMC. His name is William Graham, in the photo he is the one with his arm behind his head. I have been trying to find out where she served, is there anyone out there with any information?Barbara Lamb
Pte. John Shaughnessy Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, John Shaughnessy, always known as Jack or Shon was captured at Dunkirk. He took his friend Tom to the last place in a boat as he had been shot in the face and turned back to the beach, too late to get to another boat he was captured by the Germans. He was then marched to a POW camp in Germany but escaped only to be given away at a safe house in France by a collaberateur. He was then taken to Stalag XX at Thorn. I always was told that as he was a medic he was in a camp for non-combatants with doctors and padres and other medics.
One day they were being marched back from the fields, where they were made to work for the farmers, and a train had stopped below the bridge they were crossing. The guards had thrown an old Jewish man out to die on the side of the tracks. My father, being a Shaughnessy and a medic, tried to get down on to the tracks to help him. The German guard saved his life by knocking him unconcious with his rifle-butt and ordering his comrades to carry him back to camp as they could see the officer at the head of the column taking out his sidearm to shoot my dad because they did not want anyone to see what was happening to the Jews who were being taken to the death-camps.
He tried to escape again and broke his back falling. The Germans gave them Plaster of Paris and medical supplies and they contrived traction from two bunks and treated his broken back. Because of this my dad was repatriated via the Red Cross in early 1944.
The army changed his number and he was sent over to France on D-Day plus 1 in a glider. He fought through France and went down the Suez Canal to India were he spent the last months of the war in the BMH in Calcutta. From where he was demobbed in 1946 and came home.
He recovered from both the broken jaw caused by the rifle-butt and the broken back and suffered greatly with his feet because of the forced march from Dunkirk to Germany with boots that had been immersed in sea-water.
In 1957, he was diagnosed with a brain-tumour and died after a short illness. All the stories I have heard have come from my mother and my uncle and I have no way of verifying them as I never heard my father mention the war. He had two small china aeroplanes, souvenirs of Thorn, which a farmer's wife gave him in exchange for some rations from his Red Cross parcel, my brother has them now. I have some photos and paper-work from Stalag XXa, including one very similar to one already on this website, with all the men dressed up for a panto or play.Maureen Benton
RSM. Arthur Graham Royal Army Medical CorpsMy uncle Arthur Graham was in the army before WW2 broke out, but I dont know how much before; and I think he was in Egypt, Greece, Crete, and either Germany and or Poland, and possibly maybe Italy and Morocco. I do not recall him ever being persauded to talk about the army or the war, when I was a child.
The little I do know is that he was amongst the medical corp who opened up Bergen-Belson, and that he did joke once that he didnt so much leave Greece and Crete but run through it! I know he was an RSM but dont know for how long he held that rank. I would be grateful if anybody has any memories of him could contact me.Lynda Graham
Pte. Samuel N.M.I. O'Brien Royal Army Medical CorpsI have been looking into my father's service with the RAMC in WW2. Samuel O'Brien was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. He was 19 or 20 when he enlisted. I am waiting on his records from the army, but I was hoping that there may be some who remembered him. He passed away in 1995 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Whatever any one can add will be most welcome. Thanks to all the vets.Gary O'Brien
L/Cpl Alistair Crawford Cameron MacRitchie 153rd Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father Alister MacRitchie was captured on the cliff top at St.Valery-en-Caux with the 51st Highland Division on the 12th of June 1940. He was marched, trucked, marched, trained, barged, and trained again (32 hours, 50 men to a truck, with no water) to Stalag XXA in Thorn in Poland where he worked on various work details in satellite camps. As he was "protected personnel", being a medical orderly, he was repatriated through Sweden in October 1943 as part of the first successful prisoner exchange with the Germans.
My Dad (far right) with his two pals, Allan Cameron and Archie Day, "The Three Musketeers" or "The Three Must Get Beers", who were in his unit and were captured with him.
This is a German photo of my Dad and others at one of the satellite camps. My Dad swears that the faces in the photographs had been touched up to make everyone look fatter and healthier than they really were.
Alan Moore, who was a fellow POW of my father's at one of the camps, was recently featured on The Antiques Roadshow, Remembrance Day Special recounting the story of the radio that was smuggled in and operated in the camp (he still has the radio). My Dad's story, transcribed from his own handwritten notes and POW diaries, is recounted in "Chrismas in the Lager - Worse than a Sunday" available from www.blurb.com.
The following are fellow POWs with their POW numbers whom he listed in his diary:
- Cameron, A. 18476
- McPherson 18536
- MacRitchie, A 18702
- Chapman 17238
- Bridges, A. 50131
- Hawley 18502
- Drake, D. 50130
- Elliott, A. 13785
- Case, G. 50136
- Bynes 18313
- Lait, W. 15225
- Young, G. 16995
- McKenzie 11244
- Moran, W. 18262
- McKenzie 16904
- Smith, J. 18171
- Henry, A. 18408
- Kennedy 18185
- Castle, N. 18254
- Woods 17244
- Steven, C. 18545
- Borne 18272
- Ross, T. 15149
- Firth 17074
- Smith, A.V. 15230
- McQueen 18387Stuart MacRitchie
Capt. John Stanley I'anson Chesshire MC. Royal Army Medical CorpsJohn Chesshire died aged 96 on the 27th of November 2011. His obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph on the 3rd of January 2012 as follows:
In March 1944 Chesshire, a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), was serving as Medical Officer to 1st Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment (1 SSR), part of 77th Indian Infantry Brigade. In the middle of the month the Brigade blocked the railway at Henu, northern Burma. Faced with this threat to their supply lines, the Japanese attacked and, on March 17, the regimental aid post manned by Chesshire and a colleague, Captain Thorne, was overrun.
The two officers continued to operate and tend the wounded until a counter-attack repelled the enemy. Days of heavy shelling followed, but Chesshire carried on with his work even though it meant standing in the open while others were able to take shelter. During the first two weeks of the month-long battle, he was senior MO to the Brigade. On at least five occasions shells landed close to his operating theatre. The citation for his MC estimated that 500 men had passed through his hands during the campaign. It paid tribute to his tireless energy under dreadful conditions, which had saved many lives and provided a great boost to morale.
John Stanley I’Anson Chesshire, the son of a clergyman, was born on September 8 1915 at the rectory at Stourport-on-Severn. After leaving Marlborough he wanted to become a missionary, a vocation that his father had followed as a young man. He decided, however, to become a doctor, reasoning that he would find other ways to satisfy his initial ambition. He went up to Birmingham University to read Medicine and was then apprenticed to the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. As a junior registrar he was always short of money and supplemented his income by assisting the brain surgeon – who could only use the theatres at night because of the length of time that most of his operations took.
When war was declared Chesshire was exempted from call-up but, after pestering the authorities, joined the RAMC and accompanied 1 SSR to India and then Burma. After the conflict he started practising as a GP, based at Knighton, Radnorshire; in the early 1950s, however, he resigned from the National Health Service and transferred to the Colonial Service so that he could take his surgical skills to Malaya. After eight years there during the Emergency, he spent a year in Sumatra as Esso’s chief medical officer.
Chesshire subsequently returned to Knighton and became a hill-farmer, rearing Welsh ewes and Hereford cattle. During the lambing season he converted a large wooden crate into a shepherd’s hut, had it taken to the top of Stowe Hill and camped with just a primus stove for warmth.
When the missionary in him emerged once more, he set off for Borneo. On one occasion, on a trip into the jungle to attend someone who was ill, he experienced severe stomach pains. A self-diagnosis confirmed his fears. He had acute appendicitis and he was the only medical practitioner for many miles. He did, however, have a medical orderly with him whom he instructed to set up a primitive operating table with a mirror over it. Chesshire then gave himself a large dose of local anaesthetic and, with the aid of the mirror, proceeded to guide the orderly through an operation to remove the appendix.
He retired from farming in the late 1970s but continued to practise medicine and enjoyed fishing into old age. An accomplished fly fisherman, when his legs were not strong enough to support him, he would tie himself to a tree to avoid falling into the water. Geology was another absorbing interest and he achieved some striking results using boot polish to make paintings of rock formations. He married, in 1949, Marion Walker. She predeceased him and he is survived by their three sons and a daughter.Henry Chesshire
Pte. Ernest Edward Cochrane MID. No.18 Company Royal Army Medical CorpsErnie was born in East Ham in the East End of London on 18th April 1917. At the outbreak of war in 1939 he was a conscientious objector. Nonetheless, on June 6th 1940 he was deemed to have enlisted in the Territorial Army Non-Combatant Corp and posted to A.M.P Corps. No.2 Centre, Caister. During the 1930s Ernie had gained a St John's Ambulance first aid qualification so he was discharged from the T.A. to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. Aged 23, he took the oath of Allegiance at Girton College Cambridge and was posted to R.A.M.C. No.18 Company. He was graded and mustered and posted to No.1 Depot and Training Establishment R.A.M.C. Crookham (Crookham Camp, Aldershot) with the rank of Private and service trade, Nursing Officer Class II. The date was September 4th 1940.
Ernie said the R.A.M.C. was otherwise known as "Run Away Matron's Coming". After receiving training, his company embarked on a convoy ship departing from Glasgow on Dec 12th 1940 for Malta. No sooner had the ship left the Clyde than its engine started producing plumes of black smoke. Being unable to keep up the convoy it was left behind and forced to continue alone, pouring smoke, a sitting duck to any U-boat. Luckily, they did make it to Gibraltar. After repairs there, the ship set sail for Malta but was forced to divert to Pireas in Greece first because of German bombing. Malta was under siege by the Germans 1940-1942.
Eventually, on January 14th 1941, Ernie disembarked in Malta and remained there throughout the siege. Two days later on 16th January HMS Illustrious was bombed in Grand Harbour. Life on Malta was not easy. Ernie thought the troops probably faired better than the locals as at least they had some army rations. When he arrived, he said, there were lots of cats and dogs on the island but by the time he left there were only their fleas. His cousin Doreen, a young evacuee back in England, was chastised by Ernie after she wrote to him about all the nice things she’d had to eat at Christmas.
At one time on Malta, Ernie was in a cinema which was bombed. He was eventually dug out of the rubble without, he claimed, a scratch on him. Whether this event accounts for his stay in the General Hospital Imtarfa between May 5th and June 13th 1941, we do not know.
On Sept 4th 1941 Ernie was advanced to Nursing Officer Group 'C' Class I, although it wasn’t until March 1943, after the siege of Malta had effectively ended, that he undertook the required course of instruction at 45 Gen Hasp. Recognition of his status as Nursing Officer Class I was not noted in his service record until April 14th 1943.
On Aug 26th 1943 Ernie left Malta. He was taken by ship to N. Africa for a new posting with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. En route many suffered from stomach upsets which were officially put down to seasickness but Ernie put down to bad bully beef. They landed in N. Africa (Alexandria, Egypt) and from here they were taken to Haifa by railway.
Ernie’s service record states that on Sep 20th 1943 he was “Moved for unknown destination” and three days later “Disembarked in Cos”. Cos had been held by the Italians until September 1943 when an unconditional armistice with the Allies was announced. Ernie and a couple of fellow medics were sent to Cos to assist the British fighting troops there at an inland medical unit.
On Oct 3rd 1943 at 4.30am Germans invaded Cos with Ju 87 dive bombers, Brandenburg Division paratroopers and sea-bourne troops. From the medical unit they could see the German's parachuting into the hills in and around Antimachia. They could hear the bombing and shooting but their commander said there was nothing to do but wait. The following morning the Germans arrived at the medical station and commanded the allied troops to collect their belongings and line up outside. Not wishing to be a POW Ernie escaped via his hut's back window and headed for the sea. When an uproar ensued behind he dived into an irrigation ditch to hide and await darkness before moving off. After the war Ernie learnt that his mate, nicknamed Tiny, was taken prisoner that day and spent the rest of the war in a German stalag.
That night Ernie hid under a bridge to sleep. Early morning the next day he was alarmed to find there was a German Officer shaving outside a nearby hut. Ernie was forced to wait until the coast was clear before emerging. He made his way to the sea and searched in vain along the coast for a boat. Whilst sitting in the sand dunes eating his emergency rations he heard a German soldier shout "Achtung". He hurriedly slithered into sea on his belly. In panic he swam under water for as long as possible to avoid detection thus beginning a ten miles swim to the Turkish mainland. At this time Turkey remained neutral in the war. Ernie had been a champion swimmer in his East Ham swimming club so was not daunted. His swim was guided by the lights of a fishing port on the Turkish coast. He found an oil drum in the sea to aid his buoyancy. He was picked up near the Turkish coast by a Turkish fishing boat. At the local port he found many other escapees who had arrived by boat but no-one else who had swum. When my father told me this story in the 1990s his narrative was in the singular. However, one of my brothers says Ernie was not alone on his escape endeavor but our father had told him that none of his other compatriots actually survived the swim. Ernie was unsure what had happened to them.
From Turkey the escapees traveled in a landing craft to Castel-Rosso (now called Kastelorizo), a Greek island further east, 2 miles off the Turkish coast and still held by the British. From here Ernie was evacuated to Beirut. The 18th Company R.A.M.C. were still based in Haifa, Palestine. However, in Beirut Ernie is not immediately sent to re-join his unit in Haifa but held in solitary confinement and asked to write what has happened and how he got here. He doesn't find out, until arriving back in Palestine on 14th October, that his comrades have been asked to read his account and verify he is who he claims to be. He thinks the military may have thought him a potential spy.
Two weeks later, on Oct 31st 1943, Ernie is moved once again from “Palestine to unknown destination”. On Nov 3rd 1943 he disembarked on Leros. He is here nearly 2 weeks before the Germans come. During this time an officer insist they paint a big red cross on the roof of their forward medical station so it wouldn't be bombed. Vain hope! On Nov 12th 1943 at 4.30am the Germans landed on Leros and heavy fighting ensued. Ernie was Mentioned in Dispatches for distinguished service. This was published in the London Gazette 23rd March 1944. He thinks this may have been for single handedly rescuing a badly injured soldier when their forward medical station was bombed. His senior officer had gone in search of transport and never returned.
In the morning of the 16th the British surrendered. Back in the UK Ernie was reported “Missing (Aegean)” and “Posted to X(VI) DCL 748/43”. However, Ernie along with the injured allied troops were loaded aboard a hospital ship as POWs and set sail for Northern Italy - ultimate destination a stalag. The details of what happened next are unclear. There are two, not necessarily conflicting versions. En route they came across a British held ship full of injured German prisoners of war. The two commanders agreed to swap prisoners. Alternatively, en route they encountered the Royal Navy which forced the hospital ship into Brindisi. Either way Ernie landed in Allied held Brindisi, Southern Italy on December 12th 1943. Back home his record entry states “Previously reported missing now located having been recaptured. Removed from X(VI) DCL 755/43”. On December 18th he is “posted to X(IV)C”. On 24th December he joins the British North Africa Force and posted to X(i) which was a list of escaped POWs awaiting repatriation to the UK. From Brindisi in Italy he sailed to N.Africa and his photographs show a transport train in the Atlas mountains between Tunis and Algiers in Dec 1943 and a large group of British soldiers in uniform at Fort de l'Eau Algeria (a suburb of Algiers) in Jan 1944.
Ernie lands back in England at the port of Liverpool and by the end of January he is back in London. His service record on the 8th February declares that he is “Disembarked UK from overseas”; “Posted to 'Y' List Class 'D' (Escaped POWs)” and given some leave.
On March 23rd 1944 Ernie learned he has be awarded the Emblem for being Mentioned in Dispatches in recognition of gallant & distinguished services in the field. On 7th April 1944 he was required back at work with the R.A.M.C. 18th Company stationed in Millbank Barracks, London SW1. Ernie was set to work in the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital (QEMH) Millbank. These buildings later became Chelsea College of Art & Design and part of Tate Britain next door. Ernie claimed that the only thing of note he did from then to the end of war was to give King Hussein of Jordan TTC injections. It could have been different as, at some stage, there was the toss of a coin to decide which of two Medical Officers is to serve in the D Day landings (June 6th 1944). Ernie stayed in London!
In Ernie’s medical report in April 1946, prior to his release, the countries in which he served are listed as: Malta 2yrs 9 months; Dodecanese & Palestine (together) 4 months; Italy and Algeria (together) 2 months; U.K. 2 years. Ernie proceeded on terminal leave on May 9th 1946 and went on to a highly successful career in Local Government Public Cleansing.
After a whirlwind romance Ernie proposed to Wren Olive Winifred Bailes. They met at a YWCA dance in London and married at St George & St Ethelbert Parish Church East Ham, London E6 on July 26th 1944. There were no photographs of this wartime wedding as there was no photographic paper available at the time. They were married for over 50 years and had 4 children.
It was not until he was in his eighties and nineties that my father talked about his wartime service and then only very seldom, when pressed. We do know he suffered from bad nightmares associated with his wartime experiences and particularly his cinema bombing experience on Malta and his underwater escape from Cos. His sister, my Auntie Edie, said that during the war people were continually warned that “Talk Costs Lives” so became used to not to talking about their work and after the war everyone just wanted to forget and get on with their lives. The story here is derived from the bits my father told us, memories from his sister and cousin, and his wartime photographs, all pieced together with the aid of his wartime service record and the internet. We acquired his service record from the Historical Disclosures Section of the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow, after my father’s death in January 2010 aged 92.
Ernest Cochrane, Floriana, Malta 1942
Malta 1941 From left to right: ?? : Ernest Cochrane : G. Goodie : Owen Green
The bombing of HMS Illustrious, Grand Harbour, Malta January 16th 1941
Ernest Cochrane on the right. From Illustrated August 29th 1942
Transportation train in the Atlas Mountains between Tunis & Algiers December 1943
Fort de l'Eau Algeria January 1944
Olive Winifred Bailes (W.R.N.S. No 46361)
Ernest Cochrane aged 92 (Dec.2009)
Citation CertificateLesley Parks
Leslie Baker Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Grandad Leslie Baker died when I was 7. I belive he saw action with the LRDG and with General Teto in Yugoslavia. Any information would be very greatful.Dawn Hardy
Sgt. Robert James Knox No. 30 Coy. Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, Robert James Knox, enlisted on 12th December 1940 and was trained at Crooks Barracks, Aldershot. He was a state registered nurse having qualified at Walton Hospital Liverpool in 1938.
He sailed to Malta on 11th July 1941 as part of Operation Substance. The convey was attacked on 23rd July and my father spent some time in the water and eventually reached Valetta on 24th July when he was posted to No. 30 Company RAMC working at 117 Military Hospital, Mtarfa for the next three years during the Siege of Malta. Whilst in Malta he played for the Army at Hockey
He was promoted to Corporal on 28th October 1941 and Sargeant on 28th August 1942 and continued to nurse both service personel and civilians until 5th February 1944 when he left Malta on ill health grounds and was discharged from the RAMC on 10th March 1944 following the amputation of his leg for medical reasons. He was aged 30. After the war he continued nursing at Lambeth hospital until his second leg was amputated in 1952 and he died in 1963 at the age of 49. I know very little more as I was 16 when he died and he rarely spoke about his war time experiences.Bob Knox
Sgt. William Briggs 207 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsWilliam Briggs was my uncle. After the death of my grand father in 1911, my father was sent to live with an aunt in Ireland as my grand mother could not afford to keep her three young sons. She kept the youngest child Frederick, but where William then age four years went to remains a mystery. I have however come across these photos of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 207 Field Ambulance, whose Headquarters were on Kings Road, Stretford, Manchester. If anyone knows anthing about this unit or recognizes any of the men in the photos please contact me.Florence Swinton
Capt. Thomas Stephens MC & Bar.My Grandmothers’s brother, Dr Thomas Stephens, served in the RAMC and was attached to the 4/16th Punjab Regiment. I understand he was at El Alamein and Monte Cassino. I was told he was awarded an MC at El Alamein and an MC Bar at Cassino. However, whilst I have been unable to find any record of the MC for El Alamein, I have found details of an immediate MC awarded at Cassino. I have found a copy of his citation dated 15 March 1944 which reads as follows and was recommended by Lt Col S.W. Packwood:
“On the night of 13-14th Feb 1944 the Btn took over the sector immediately North of the Cassino Monastery and flanking the much disputed Pt593. From the outset casualties came in in a steady stream and Capt T. Stephens, the Btn M.O. was continually occupied, not only in dealing with casualties of his own Btn, but also with those of at least two other Btns in nearby sectors which came through his R.A.P. This continued till 17th Feb and this M.O. worked without relief under conditions continually fraught with danger for long periods both day and night. The climax was reached on the morning of 18 Feb when ½ G.R and 1/9 G.R. attacked the monastery position. Casualties were very heavy and the Btn RAP formed the bottleneck through which they had to pass. The R.A.P. and approaches to it were continually under shell and mortar fire. Stretcher bearer parties, mostly consisting of personnel new to the area, had to be organised and put into action. Capt Stephens was prominent in this work throughout this period. Apart from dealing with scores of casualties he personally led stretcher parties on numerous occasions to where casualties lay and where it was almost certain death to venture. His example and untiring efforts throughout were inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of his corps.
Since 21st Feb the Btn has been in an area continually harassed by artillery, mortars and nebelwafers. Casualties have been frequent and the enemy fire at all times well concentrated and prolonged. Capt Stephens has always been first on the scene of casualties and often before the enemy fire has ceased. His alertness, promptitude and courage has been responsible for the saving of many lives and his actions have become a source of great moral comfort to all ranks of the Btn." Commandant, 4th Btn, 16th Punjab Regiment”
Prior to the War, Tom was a GP in Ardsley, Nr Wakefield, Yorks. I know that Tom had two sons who I believe were called Timothy & Nigel, but have been unable to trace them. Anyone who can shed any further light on Tom or his sons would be much appreciated.Alison Dickinson
Sgt. William Briggs 207 Field Ambulance Brigade Volunteers Royal Army Medical CorpsWilliam Briggs born 1906 in Stafford, he was my fathers' brother. Unfortunately my father, Albert, and William were separated following the death of their father Frederick. My father was sent to live in Ireland with an aunt and my grandmother Florence kept her youngest son Frederick who was only a baby at that time. Where William went to remains a mystery. My father knew nothing of William's whereabouts and unfortunately never had the opportunity to find out on his return to civilian life after serving in the Army WW2
I have discovered that William Briggs served in the Royal Army Medical Corps 207 Field Ambulance Brigade Volunteers and these are some photographs of William and his fellow officers. Their HQ was on Kings Road in Manchester. Do you recognize any of these men? I would love to hear from you if you do.Florence Swinton
Pte. Edward George Witt Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Dad Edward Witt was a stretcher bearer the Royal Army Medical Corps and was held in Stalag 4a after he was taken as a POW from Crete.Philip Witt
Henry William Clarke Royal Army Medical CorpsMy grandfather Henry Clarke was in the Royal Army Medical Corps. I know he signed up in Birmingham. I wondered if anyone had any information?Johanna Clarke
Sgt. Edward Herbert "Jack" Stradling 39th General HospitalLike almost all ex-servicemen, my Dad, Edward Stradling didn't talk about his war experiences very much. Dad joined up as a regular in 1932. It was steady work at a time when there was little about. He was stationed in Bermuda for about 3 years in the mid 30's. He and Mum returned in the 90's for a wonderful trip with old friends especially Tom and Lois Aitchison.
During the War, Dad was part of the BEF and was picked up at Dunkirk. He was awarded the Dunkirk medal. We took him back. It was a very poignant trip. He was picked up from the mole. He was in North Africa at some time - he held the Africa Star. He also told me that it was the only time he drove - to get away from that "b*****d Rommel"! One posting sergeant said to him "I know where you're going - you'll be glad when you get there". There was Malta. There was a BBC documentary recently on the siege of Malta. I had no idea how bad it was. They were reduced to living on tinned herrings. I remember when Dad came home Mum got him a treat - tinned sardines! Dad was also present at the liberation of Brussels where he was taken in by a Belgian family. Dad stayed in touch with Victor and family for many years.
Dad sadly passed away in 1999. I wished now that I had asked more about his wartime experiences but I never wanted to intrude. If anyone remembers him, I would love to hear from you.Bob Stradling
L/Cpl. Jack Blane No 3 (BR) Casualty Clearing Station RAMCThis is the account my father Jack Blane wrote for the family of his war. He wrote it in 2002, at the age of eighty three:
I entered military service at Crookham Barracks, 15th September 1939. After three months’ training I had Embarkation Leave for one week at Christmas. Having embarked for France on a bitterly cold New Year’s Eve, I was sent to Number 3 Casualty Clearing Station (3 CCS) at Mondicow and remained with that unit throughout the war. It was very cold, with deep snow. I read last year, 2001, that 1940 was the coldest winter since 1815. I only had a stretcher to sleep on and two blankets, in a cold, old house with no heating. For two months I went to bed with all my clothes on, including my greatcoat and gas cape. When the “Phoney War” ended and Germany invaded, we gradually made our way to the coast. We had some dodgy times on the way, including evacuating a clearly marked ambulance train of severely burned civilians from Rotterdam, whilst under attack from German planes.
On 31st May we were ordered to leave our billet for hopeful evacuation. My sergeant gave me a big pack of medical record books, then told me to set off to Dunkirk and that on the way the others would help me. I set off into France and kept plodding along the sand. I did not see any more members of our unit but finally saw a Royal Navy man. I asked him if there was any chance of getting off. He told me to stay where I was and wait but that I could not take the pack. So I just threw it down and left it on the beach. I seemed to be alone and must have fallen asleep. When it became dark a lot of other troops assembled and a smallish boat arrived. We had to wade into the sea up to our chests. The Navy chap in charge said that when he ordered, “Stop,” we had to stop trying to get aboard or he would shoot us – and I am sure that he would have. We were all finally taken to a larger “little ship.” I thought, “Oh, Good: we should be in England by morning.” When I woke up, big shock. We were still cruising off shore and the skipper would not leave while he could see anyone on the beach. The last man to be brought aboard was in a bad way, having been shot by a machine gun. He died within sight of England. After disembarking I was put on a train and eventually arrived at Oswestry Barracks about midnight, still soaked through. I had one nightmare after this while I was billeted with nice people in Leeds, where I finally rejoined my unit all safe and sound.
From June 1940 to December 1941 I was stationed at various places in England. Kitty and I married on 9th October 1940. That Christmas was the last we had together until 1945. Our unit left Liverpool in December 1941 and we spent Christmas Day that year in Sierra Leone harbour. Later, I had four lovely days with civilian friends in Cape Town, South Africa. We then went to Palestine and to Beirut – which was a lovely place then. On our way to the 8th army I met up with my brother Bernard for four hours in Cairo. I never did know how that was arranged or by whom. I spent Christmas 1942 at Tobruk and New Year’s Eve at Bengazi. Then it was on to the last battle for the 8th Army in North Africa. After that, we went to Malta for two weeks’ rest and then it was the invasion of Sicily and into Southern Italy. Our ship came under heavy fire while we lay off Italy prior to landing.
We sailed for England from Bari on a lousy, overcrammed ship. We had half a ration of bully beef for Christmas dinner 1943. At night all the floors, the dining tables and hammocks, were full of men. In January 1944 I arrived in England and was stationed in Cambridge, hooray!! I was allowed a sleeping out pass. Kitty came to Cambridge and we had a lovely time, staying with my Aunt Alice. (Our first daughter, Jean, was born in October that year!)
On D-Day, 6th June, we sailed in convoy down the Thames. Once off Dover we could see and hear the big German guns in Calais firing across the Channel. They hit the ship directly ahead of us, setting it on fire. It was terrible to see. How lucky we were to escape unharmed. We lay off the French coast until D-Day plus two. Then we landed on Gold Beach with 30 Corps and set up our Casualty Clearing Station. We were very busy and it was very noisy from the gunfire. I slept in a ditch. The Germans shelled us one night and two Nursing Sisters were injured. The army moved us to a safer area the next day.
On we went to Brussels and then to Eindhoven. Next it was Nijmegen where the road back (our supply road) was cut off by the Germans for four days. We took casualties from the battle for Arnhem. Six operating theatres were working, three on day shift and three on night shift. I did not leave the hospital building for two weeks. After two months there we were relieved by the Canadians. Christmas Day 1944 was spent somewhere in Belgium. Then it was on to the Ardennes and the “Battle of the Bulge” to help the Americans, who suffered heavy losses. There was deep snow and it was bitterly, bitterly cold. We were back to Nijmegen for the Battle for the Rhine. Twentyfive pounder guns fired over the hospital all day. The forest flooded too and all casualties and equipment were wet through.
I had a short home leave in March, to see Kitty and meet my new daughter for the first time. Then it was back to my unit. We made our way into Germany where, after being in various places, we ended up just outside Hanover. December 1945 and back in England. I had four weeks demob leave. So Christmas 1945 I was home at last. Demobbed February 1946. There were Good Times and Bad Times – but always Good Friends.
Jack Blane, 3rd March 2002
Post Script: What my father does not include in this understated account are the horrors he experienced during “his” war. These strongly affected him to the end and when he spoke of them, which he still did only sparingly, it was with great feeling. I, and all our family, are very proud of him.Jean Flannery
Sgt George Herrett 195th Field AmbulanceMy father-in-law, George Herrett, spoke very little about the war apart from one story I remember when he was in France the lieutenant of his section was injured and to save his life he had to cut off his arm as there was no other medics or doctor where they where. I have tried to find out about his army career but even though I have his service No I have been unsuccesful. Can anyone help with info on who to contact as my grandson would like to know more about his grandad's army careeer.Rita Herrett
L/Cpl. John Shrigley Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father John Shrigley served in India in WW2. As far as I can recall he enlisted in the summer of 1943. He was in the Royal Army Medical Corps and based in Johore State hospital. At one point he was sent to convalesce in Darjeeling following an operation to replace a fractured skull with a metal plate. I think that they had to evacuate the patients from the Hospital because the Japanese were advancing on them. He was also at some point in Rangoon. He came home in either 1946 or 1947 on the Troopship Empress of Australia, which docked in Liverpool. I would love to obtain details as to his Army Number, Service Record, etc, but am not sure how to go about it.Joan Harrison
Mjr. Edmund Boyce Rowe Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, Edmund Boyce Rowe, Major RAMC servied in India and Burma from 1941 to 46/7. He evacuated Southampton hospital having married my mother in the morning on the day that WW2 broke out. Sometime later he was sent to Catterick, issued tropical kit sent on to Liverpool sailed via the Cape of Good Hope before being told they were bound for India. He spent time in Calcutta overseeing the body count of victims of cholera daily numbering tens of thousands, he also served in Burma. He died in 1991, any information please?Karen
Andrew Sinclair "Sinky" Brodie Royal Medical CorpsMy granddad Andrew Brodie served in Burma. I think he was a medic. He died when I was 4. Good looking gent, wish I knew him. RIP.Dale Johnston
Pte. Dennis Brown Royal Army Medical CorpsMy grandfather Dennis Brown was originally trained as a sniper but due to a small problem with his one eye was transferred to be trained with the R.A.M.C. He spent some time at Seacroft Hospital, Leeds and also some time at a training camp at Glenridding, Ullswater.
He started his journey in 1943 when he sailed out from Southampton and eventually sailed on both the SS Karoa and the HMS Ranchi. He sailed to Durban were he watched Ms Salmon sing to the troops as they departed their ships. He safely went round the Cape of Good Hope. He also watched the captain of his ship check on a vessel he'd wrecked previously on one of the Nicobar islands. He spent a short time in Calcutta were he visited the Lighthouse cinema and Phirpoes restaurant before being transported out into the jungle to a small BMH hospital at Panitola, were he contracted malaria several times whilst he served there. I know he ended up going with a small group of other men to Hiroshima before he came home in 1947. Burma Star. If you know anything more about my grandfather please contact me as I'd love to hear from you.Catherine Smith
Pte. Cecil "Pat" Pattison Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father Cecil Pattison volunteered in September 1939 into the Medical Corps. He served in the BEF and went through Dunkirk. Later he was posted to North Africa, where he was in the Royal Army Dental Corps. In North Africa he contracted tuberculosis and was invalided out in May 1946 to South Africa to recover. He died in 1952 of pneumonia when I was almost two. I would love to know more about his service in North Africa.Chris Pattison
Sgt. Basil Edgar Stroud Royal Medical CorpsOur father, Basil Stroud, was in the Royal Medical Corps, during WW2. He was early on stationed in Bristol and survived a bomb landing on the Hospital that he was guarding there. A piece of shrapnel hit his head, but this helmet saved his life.
He was then sent to India, via a very long boat journey. He ended up stationed in Poona, with occasional sorties to the Burmese jungle to drop blood plasma from the planes, for the Allies.While in Poona, he was made a Sergeant; he played hockey and was the regiment's drummer in the camp band. If anyone remembers him, the Stroud family would love to hear from you.Jenny Stroud
Richard George Tossell Royal Army Medical CorpsRichard George Tossell born 1911 Barnstaple, North Devon. Occupation pre-war was as a Double Decker Bus Driver on the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe route. He Joined up in 1940 and served with the R.A.M.C, R.A.S.C. as an Ambulance Driver in Egypt and after POW stint was a Tank Transport Driver to the front lines in Germany. He was held as a POW from April of 1941 - April 1943 P.G.78 Sulmona Italy after being taken prisoner during the The Western Desert Campaign, Operation Compass and German General Erwin Rommel's Africa Corp's first offensive Operation Sonnenblume April 1941 He was transported to Italy by boat crammed in the lower deck on mattresses under RAF bombing.
While in captivity Dick took advantage of other soldiers sharing their expertise, teaching classes. He especially enjoyed the classes by electricians and used those skills rewiring his home after the war. He took every advantage he could to learn and read books. He always spoke very highly of the International Red Cross and the packages sent and swears that's what kept him alive. Occasionally a name would be called, the man, never to be seen again. They didn't know the fate of those being called, whether they were beaten, tortured, executed or released.
Early in April 1943 after two years as a prisoner,the POW's were told they would be going home the following week during a prisoner exchange with Italian prisoners. On 13/14th Apr 1943 during transit home POW trains hid under a tunnel while 211 RAF planes bombed for 8 hrs. The harbor of La Spezia, Italy, especially the naval base with three battleships in port. Four Lancaster bombers shot down. The battleships were unharmed. When the POW's emerged the mountainside seemed to be ablaze with incendiaries and a big tanker was ‘going up in smoke’. While they waited in the tunnel the railway behind them was blown up. They continued by train through Milan and Southern France arriving Lisbon 18 Apr 1943. Dick was repatriated via Lisbon on H.M.H.S. Newfoundland Hospital Ship and arrived Avonmouth, England, on Good Friday 23 April 1943, when they were allowed to telegraph home. Dick arrived home in Woolacombe to his wife and two daughters May 4th 1943. An article "Grand to be back" appeared in the North Devon Journal Herald on the 6th of May 1943. Not long afterwards he was called back up as drivers with his skills were needed to drive tank transports to the front lines in Germany.
He returned to Double Decker bus driving after the war and lived in Ilfracombe until his retirement. Dick died 7 Dec 2003 at the age of 93 proud of his service for his country.Mary Tossell
Capt. John Edward Wooding MID Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, Captain John Edward Wooding, was captured near Boulogne on 24th May 1940 from No. 6 Ambulance Train BEF France (R.A.M.C.). My mother received a telegram on 8th August 1940 notifying her that he was now a prisoner of war at Oflag 1VA Germany. He was Mentioned in Dispatches and the citation read:
In addition to carrying out his duties as a medical officer whilst a prisoner in Germany, he did valuable work in organising secret communications with the War Office. Three colleagues have highly commended his activities in this connection.
I do have a photograph of the officers at the camp which was taken by the Red Cross and sent to my mother during the war. I also have the alarm clock supplied to him by the Red Cross whilst a prisoner. One of his fellow medical officer prisoners was William Henderson who subsequently became a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Leeds Royal Infirmary after the war and became my godfather.Margaret Chapman
Pte. Leslie Arthur Smith Royal Army Service CorpsMy father Leslie Smith was a driver in the RASC. I understand he drove ammunition trucks, but also was put into the RAMC as a Ambulance driver, with the 14th Field Ambulance. I know he was in Africa, Sicily & Italy, he would never talk about the war, and I would like to know more of what happened during his time out there. I am his last surviving daughter, and I am coming up for 80 yrs, so if there is anyone who can give me any information or even photos, I would be more than grateful. Thank you in anticipationLilian Knightley
Cecil Charles Fogell 145 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Grandfather, Cecil Charles Fogell, was in the 145 Field Ambulance (R.A.M.C) and was captured at Dunkirk, on the 28th May. He was taken to Stalag VIII B Lamsdorf. We have his German POW identification card which shows he entered the camp on 14.06.40. He was prisoner number 12440. He was then transferred to Stalag VIII D on the 1.9.41. It then seems he was transferred to Stalag IX-C between 26.9.41 to 1.12.43. He then was moved again in April 1943 to Stalag XXID. If anyone knew him during this time, we would welcome any memories.John Smithson
Charles Donald Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, Charles Donald RAMC, was a medical officer at Lamsdorf Stalag VIIIB - during his time there he documented outbreaks of louse borne typhus fever - which was the subject of his MD thesis. Whilst a POW he was able to receive the British Medical Journal and submit articles to the BMJ (September 19 1942). He suffered from typhus before being repatriated in 1943. Following the war he became a General Practitioner at Bamber Bridge in Lancashire.Munro Donald
S/Sgt. Weeks Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father was captured when Crete fell and was in Stalag VIIIB. He was a S/Sgt in the RAMC. He was repatriated in late 43/early 44 with an exchange of prisoners. I would like to find any others and the reason father was chosen. Perhaps because he was in the RAMC accompanying the sick?John Weeks
Gould 189th Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsMy grandfather was a prisoner at Stalag 8b, I have just received his diary that covers some of his time there, also 3 group photos that he posted home whilst there. From a piece of paper in his diary I am assuming he was a member of the 189th Fd Amb RAMC, and I would be really grateful if anyone could give me any information on this.
Also one of the photos has the following names and numbers on the back, does it ring any bells for someone, I would be happy to send a copy of the pictures to anyone who may be related to Harold Geo Tyler 22271 of Hereford or Charles E Scovell 22153 of SouthamptonY Gould
Ray Walker Royal Army Medical Corps5th February 1945
At the time of writing this, I am listening to Artillery fire and bombing near this camp known as Stalag 344. About five thousand of us are awaiting our release by Russian troops. These are memories of my captivity. On May 29th 1940, we were in position near a river "somewhere north of Ypres". After a day of excitement and peril, beginning at approximately 7.00 a.m. with our billet, a barn, being set on fire by Jerry, I was captured. On our way back to German H.Q. we picked up three of our chaps who were wounded, and left then at a German R.A.P. After that, we who were fit marched back under guard to a house and stayed the night in the garden. It was cold and we were soon wet through with dew. Next day we moved on and at night reached Rosalere having covered about 45 kilometres. Our billet was a convent school. During the night the RAF bombed the town but missed us. From there we moved on another 38 kilos to a small place I do not know by name. Four days we stayed there in a small school playground. My 25th birthday was spent in this place. On June 4th we moved on another 41 kilos to Coudenarde. After being paraded round the town we were put in an old Belgian army barracks where we stopped for 3 days, most of the time queued up for food. There were thousands of British and French mixed, up. We were to curse the French fluently from then on. Whenever we moved from then on, the French were put in front. They carried so much kit - food and clothing - that they could not keep up with the British who had nothing. We saw these !*! sitting by the roadside eating while we starved and marched on. As the march progressed, the French straggled out more and more, so at each fresh start - mostly daily occurrences they were given longer starts on the British.
On June 7th, we left Coudenarde and marched 35 kilos to Edingem, where we arrived at 11 p.m. On the road jerry guards stopped the British for over two hours while the French straggled on ahead. Then, in threes we were told to march on. One of the Germans said "Sing Tommy", so we sang "Tipperary" and others of the old favourites. To show we weren't too down hearted we sang "Hang out our Washing on the Siegfried Line"; as we came to the field where we were to spend the next couple of days. The Germans here didn't see eye to eye with us and bashed into us with big sticks yelling and raving. Because we couldn't understand then, they got real mad. June 8th; word came out to us that we could write a letter from here - only a short one. This I believe got home. In a full view of a road, three of us had a rough strip-down wash in a pint and a half of water. It felt good.
Sunday June 9th: We left this spot and hiked onward. 40 Kilos we went that day to a place I haven't the name of. Somewhere I slipped up as I usually wrote the names and distances as a destination became apparent en route. At this place we were put into an old mill of some kind. Textile weaving I believe. In the yard we crowded, and at the end nearest the building were three field cookers, with Belgian Red Cross workers, issuing soup, not much, but it was good to our hungry bellies. We filed through and then on to the building to "grab" ourselves a spot on which to sleep. As we left here on June 10th, I wrote down what I thought was the name of the town from a railway signal box. Seeing it several times afterwards on other boxes I knew I was wrong. It may have meant north, South, East or West but it wasn't the name of town. 32 Kilos onward - not 'half-a-league' - we stopped at a town named WAVRE. On the way we passed through HAL and WATERLOO. Our route was skirting us round BRUSSELS. All this time we were living on what food we could get here and there from people in villages and towns we passed through. The Germans seemed to have no organisation to deal with P.O.W. As my fellow Stretcher-Bearer and myself [sic] were keeping with our Sgt. Major, who by this time was feeling "groggy", we didn't get much food. Those "froggies" in front didn't leave much for our boys either. The next place - Tienen, carried us towards Germany another 43 Kilos. At this place we all got some soup and rice as we went into field. It was midnight before I was "served'. This was June 11th. On the 12th we had the shortest march of the lot - 18 Kilos to St.Trudien. As we entered this place, people lined the streets to see us. Not to cheer but to sympathise - they were Belgians. We did manage to get a few lumps of sugar, two small bars of chocolate and a macaroon, which we shared. From here we went to Tongeren, 21 Kilos 'up the road'. All the places we passed showed signs of bombing or shelling. Some of the big towns were severely damaged.
June 14th, we left 'Tongeren and soon after crossed the Dutch border. About 2.00 p.m. we reached our camp on the outskirts of Maastricht, after a 30 Kilo march. 6.00 p.m. a 2/Lt came over and said all Medical Corps and S.B's were to keep separate, if the German doctor had time to see our pay books and pass us; there was a chance of us going home from there. Next morning we moved out with the rest and got 1/5 of a loaf and a piece of raw pork fat. Holland- the part we saw - greatly impressed us a clean, nice place after what we had seen in Belgium. On the 15th we marched our last 30 Kilos. Crossing through Heerlen, the Dutch Red Cross had tables in the street and as we went past, we got something from them. I got a small packet of sweets a slice of bread and a small bun. We were all grateful. The end of that march was a railway siding 2 Kilos in Germany at a small place named Palensberg. We knew we were in Germany alright, as every house was hung with a Swastika flag. On this siding, there were some German nurses who treated blistered feet and dressed one or two minor wounds. A German officer of some sort wanted the brass band harp badge I wore on my tunic sleeve. When it was explained - not truthfully I am afraid - that it was a souvenir from my dead comrade, he seemed pretty decent and told me to keep it, so I promptly took it down and put it away in an inside pocket. Out of sight out of mind.
Later we were put 50 in a cattle truck and taken away. All night we travelled and arrived next day at a place like a level crossing. From this point we marched on a very rough track about 3 miles to a camp, only British were on this party, as the French were separated at Palensberg - (loud cheers under breath). This camp proved to be only a transit camp, so, arriving on June 16th we left on the 19th. Three days on a train brought us to the place where this is being written - Lamsdorf in Upper Silesia. (Stalag VIII B) Friday June 21st was that fateful day. Here we were registered and given a German field card to send home the "glad" news, on this, the phrase "I am lightly wounded" did not get crossed out and caused mother a lot of unnecessary worry.
Now started a "grand" time for us. We were fed on very watery soup, with 3 or 4 potatoes separate, for dinner. About 5.00 p.m. we got 1/5 of a loaf of bread about 10 ozs - with a very, very small portion of margarine and jam. After this we had to do from 8.30 to 10.00 a.m. and 5.00 6.00 p.m. Physical Training. When not on this we were either hunting LICE or resting in any place we could outside. Every time you stood up, you suffered from a "black-out' and then "spots before the eyes". This state of affairs, together with dysentery lasted for a long time. That winter was very severe and we had no warm clothing, no great coats and only two blankets. They were black days. A weekly paper, in English was issued to us, telling us the news - German version. They had done everything to us. Sunk our Navy three times over and practically sunk England. Sane chaps took it to heart and got real down hearted. We started a choir and sang four-part harmony. One chap produced a Saxophone he had carried from France. With this going, we got an hours singing at night during the good weather, instead of P.T.. It was impossible to make anyone realise what really happened on that March and in the following years of captivity. Many times the Germans tried to break our spirits. In some individual cases they succeeded, but on the whole, they failed.
By Christmas 1940, with one or two piano accordions and several mouth organs, we raised an Orchestra and produced "Snow White and the Seven 'Twerps", There is no need to state where this was taken from. That Christmas seems to have been lucky as on December 24th we received our first Red Cross Food Parcel and on the 27th I had my first letter from England. It was from my mate and his wife. Mother’s first letter came about three weeks later.
I was recognised as a person protected by the Geneva Convention and on April 2nd, 1941 went to another camp, (Stalag XX1 A), at Schildberg, which was 18 Kilos over the Polish border, passing through Oppeen and Kreuzberg on the way. This camp seemed like heaven after the one we had left. Here the doctor would only accept R.A.M.C. men, as the job we went to take on was working in hospitals. So when the camp had a 'clear out' on April 10th, ten of our party of twenty six moved on. About 200 men were in this party, which went on to Woolstien (Stalag XXI C/H). This was a French camp and we seemed unwanted guests. We stayed here for eight days and the "protected" men had a hard job to keep out of going on the pleas-ant job of canal digging. This we managed at the last minute without the aid of the R.S.M. in charge. 120 men left us on the 17th and we other 80 or so, moved next day to Sudhof, (Stalag XXI C/Z later XXI E), which is 3 Kilos out-side Gratz. This had been a French camp but was being taken over by British P.O.W. Towards the end of May we had a lot of snow and bitterly cold weather. About this time the remaining French left us. The Medical Orderlies were good chaps and so were the two doctors and the dentist. Us chaps, who were taking over the hospital, got up a farewell party, which consisted of a feed and afterwards some singing. This was broken up by a German Corporal assisted by two guards with rifles and fixed bayonets. When he first came in - without guards - we took no notice but carried on singing. The second time he didn't argue. Late next day, we learned that the senior French doctor had been fined 50 Riechmarks £3-6-8 for some alleged offence. We knew it was in connection with our party, so we raised the money to repay him. He declined the money and told us it was well worth that amount for so enjoyable an evening, so everyone was satisfied and happy. In the meantime a Saxophone, Clarinet, Trumpet, String Bass, Trombone and Bass Drum had come to light. A piano was in a small concert hall, so our "Orchestra" was started. The Saxophonist and Clarinet player were Army Bandsmen and quite good. Our Trumpet player was fairly good, too, but the chap who took the Trombone Well! X?. Later, this was taken over by a chap who did know a little about it. The pianist played by ear and not music. For a Side Drum - the small one - we had a 2Olb jam tin turned upside down with a bunch of keys jangling on the bottom. The String Bass player was myself - least said soonest forgotten.
On June 22nd we heard Russia hail come in on our side. That morning I was told to report to the Commandants Office. Wondering what was wrong, I went. A new addition had arrived. An 80 Bass Accordion. He wanted to know if this was a good instrument and I played what I could remember of "Black Eyes" for him as a test. From then on I took the Accordion - not that I was good and another chap took the Bass. The Commandant was proud of the band, and thereafter, when anyone came to the camp, we were sent for post haste to play something. He got us music in the form of German dance arrangements.
In May, just before the French left, we put on our first Variety show and called it "Spring is in the Air" No.1, that afternoon it snowed. Soon after the French left two British Medical Officers arrived. We spent a' good summer in Sudhof camp. October brought rumours of our camp becoming Russian and the British were leaving. Hospital staff and doctors stopping. We were to stay until February 1942. However, they changed that and we left on November 2nd 1941 to return to Schildberg. I went practically straight into the Orchestra there, on a Baritone, playing bass parts. Soon after the New Year of 1942, a party of Repats - back from Rouen - joined our Stalag and I met many chaps I knew.
Whilst at Gratz, I had written for confirmation of my being a Stretcher Bearer protected under the Geneva Convention. In February the answer came that Records Office knew nothing of my being a S.B. Of course, I was promptly crossed off the rolls by the Germans. That made me elligible for work at anything, anywhere. Being in the orchestra saved me. I got a small job in the camp. A three valved Euphonium came soon after this, so I took that over in place of the Baritone. The orchestra had grown from 18 to 40 strong and it gave many concerts, which were greatly appreciated. Just before Christmas, we bought a String Bass and knowing something about it, I took that on. It was difficult at first, as I had only done dance work with the String Bass, but with plenty of practice, I made myself fairly good.
In March 1943, Stalag XXI A closed down. The fit men went on three working parties. My party was last to leave and went to Krotoschin and became No.14 attached to Stalag XXI D. This was the nearest I ever got to breaking my hope that I would never have to work for Germany. We went to Krotoschin on Monday 29th March 1943 and we were given a week to 'settle down'. On Thursday we were taken out to "view the job". It was "miles from anywhere". No house or person in sight. In places it was ankle deep with water - very marshy. The contractor and surveyor were rank jews. The former handed out shovels saying,' "Ein uhr schnell arbeit" meaning "One hours quick work". He got it - I don't think. Then a real heavy snow storm came on. What a day! April 1st. Friday 2nd was spent in thinking up ways of getting off the party and back to main camp. Mine came on Saturday the 3rd, in the form of a recognition paper, making me again a protected person. I stopped on the job as medical orderly and went out each day with the workers. My main job, other than first aid, was heating up the 9 a.m. drinks, which chaps took out in beer bottles.
In September thirteen unrecognised medicals were called in to join the Repats. For some reason they missed it but went in May 1944. My chum went on that. We had many disputes with the Germans over the amount of work that should be done. More often than not we got our own way. For three days we stayed out from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. They said we had to do 27 trains of earth, or stop there until we had. The lads did 12, which was 3 less than we had done before. They cut it to 18 - we still "kicked", 15 was our number. In the end, the guards "gave" us 1 and the foreman gave us 2 and we did our 15. Everyone was satisfied. This party was billeted beyond a German barracks, of which there were three in the town. On May 30th 1944 we moved into Stalag XXI D Posen. The camp there was an old fort, named Foert Rauch. The day before this the RAF had bombed Posen and there was plenty of damage to be seen. Within a week I got a job in the Medical Inspection Room doing dressings etc. Whilst in this camp I managed to do quite a bit of swimming.
Posen broke up on August 17th and we went to Tescgen (Stalag VIII B), but out of 890, they could only take 500, so, with the remainder, I travelled on and got back to Lamsdorf, (now STALAG 344) on August 20th 1944. This camp seemed to have got worse during my absence. Several days we saw our bombers go over to bomb Oppeln and Blechammer. They always used our camp as a turning point.
On Monday, 22nd January 1945 the evacuation of this camp began. My block was due to go on the 23rd. We did actually line up on the road, but the guards marched off without us. This was now February 10th, and we are hourly expecting Russian troops to arrive. For days we have listened to the gun fire, shelling and bombing, which is moving past us in the North West. We get the news twice a day from a set, somewhere in the camp. Now, like all the others I say "Come on Joe"! This is 4 years and 9 months after my capture. I hope to celebrate the fifth anniversary in England, if not at home.
Sunday 11th February 1945 Today things are quiet. There have been several "strafing" attacks on the aero-drome close by, by Russian fighters. Germans have declared this area to be in a state of siege.
Monday 12th February 1945 Early this morning, 8.00 a.m. a lone Russian bomber came over and bombed the aerodrome. The A. A. send plenty of stuff up, but did not seem to hit any planes. German fighters seem to be elsewhere when 'Joe's boys' came over. Fairly heavy artillery fire in W. & N.W.
Tuesday 13th February 1945 Bad weather. Slight snow. Not much sound of activity.
Wednesday 14th February 1945 Early this morning - approximately 4.30 a.m. Heavy artillery from N.W. and very close. Most probably German artillery shelling Russian bridge head over the River Oder. No further activity. Plenty of rumours regarding a move. Can't see where Germans can move us, as we are virtually surrounded. Thursday 15th February 1945
More heavy shelling heard again. Air attacks also continue on air-field, but no German aircraft to be seen.
Friday 16 February 1945 Early morning, a Russian tank came up to the camp perimeter and the commander spoke English. He said the Russians would rescue us in the next few days.
17th February 1945 Sounds of fighting now seem to be moving in a direction indicating the Germans are retreating.
Sunday 18th February 1945 We are expecting the Russian forces at any time now.
Completed From Memory 28/5/81: On 19th February 1945, German guards suddenly appeared in the camp and said we had one hour to pack our things to move. Everyone was astounded that they planned to move us. There was only a single line railway in the area so we thought it was madness to use this. However, we were taken to the local station, and put 53 to a cattle truck. Where we were off to no-one knew. Twelve days we spent on this journey. During this time we saw a great number of trains filled with German civilians just trying to get away from the fighting. On many occasions we were stopped for air-raids and had to sweat it out hoping that we weren't attacked. The guards always fled to a safe distance. Our luck held. . A train load of P.O.W. following us was shot up, having some killed and wounded. Anything on the railways was a fair target for the Allied Air Forces. Our "piece de resistance" while on the journey was going to bed. Starting at one end of the truck, one chap would lie down and wrap his blankets round him, then another chap would do the same, only in a head to toe position, number 3 would follow the same way as the first chap and number 4 the same as number 2 and so on. The whole 53 managed to fit in in this manner. Getting up was in the reverse order.
On 3rd March 1945 we arrived at a small place called Hammelburg. After we left the train, there was a hard march over a steep hill to a camp. After our lack of exercise many rests had to be made before we got to the camp. Hammelburg is not far from Sweinfurt. The air-raid warnings were almost continuous here.
It was whilst in this camp that one 'day we were startled to hear a commotion from a nearby officers POW camp. Later, some new American POW's were brought in and we learned that General George Patton had sent tanks some 50 miles forward, to rescue his son-in-law from the Oflag. The tanks had run short of petrol and so the petrol was siphoned from half of them to allow the others to escape. It was during our stay at this camp that the "great escape" took place. This came about in the following manner. One day word got round the camp that the Germans were going to take the British prisoners out, to march on the roads. This was a ploy to stop the Allies Air Forces from strafing the retreating columns using the roads.
Early the next morning, before the "round-up" was due, holes appeared in the barbed wire fences, and streams of men could be seen heading for nearby woods, carrying all their possessions in bundles. I and two others thought we had a good hide-out - in an empty sentry post on the perimeter of the camp. After about two hours, we had an awful fright when we saw a German N.C.O coming towards our hiding place. This is it, we thought. Fortunately - his attention was caught by one of the large holes, and he went through this, back into the camp. Another attempt was made later, and on this occasion, I managed to evade the guards by being hidden by Italian prisoners in their hut. When the guards came, all lights (home-made wicks in grease) were blown out and everyone pro-tested so hard that there were no British in the hut, that the guards were convinced and left.
The camp was eventually taken over by the U.S. forces on 11th April 1945. We were flown home on 14th April.Ray Walker
Pte. Frederick Stevens 12th General Hospital Royal Medical Army CorpsMy Granddad, Frederick Stevens now 92 years old can clearly remember his time as a Prisoner of War. Having read some of the accounts on here, I hope that some people might be interested to see the similarities between his memories of Stalag IV-B with those of their relatives. He certainly recognised some of the stories recounted on this site.
Frederick Stevens was 22 years old when he was captured in October 1943 on the Island of Kos. He says that he was cooking breakfast one day with fellow members of his regiment when they saw German paratroopers dropping from the sky. They were soon captured and transported to Athens before continuing on to Germany in a cattle wagon. He remembers that it was around 35 men to each wagon and the journey lasted for a gruelling 6 days. Eventually they reached the transit camp Stalag VII-A in Moosburg. He was held there for several days before being moved on to Stalag IV-B. It was here that he was to see out the rest of the war.
After 70 years, Fred can recall several incidences, all of a dramatic nature, from during his time in the camp: He says that on one particular day, Luftwaffe planes were flying over the camp. RAF personnel within the camp encouraged the pilots to fly lower. They waved their hands as a gesture for the planes to descend; it was a show of bravado to test the pilots. The planes responded to the challenge and plummeted but the propellers of one plane caught several of the RAF men who had been waving to the planes and Fred remembers that at least 3 of them were killed. That evening, the Luftwaffe commander came to the camp to apologise, and informed the POWs that the pilots involved in the incident had been relieved of their duties and would be dispensed into the army.
The camp contained many Russian soldiers. Russia had not signed the Geneva Convention so they could not receive the extra sustenance that the other allied soldiers received through the Red Cross parcels. They even resorted to making their own sort of Ersatz coffee from Pine tree bark. Fred remembers that many prisoners of other nationalities would group together and donate whatever they could spare to the Russians. He says it wasn’t a lot, because both Russian and other inmates were always hungry.
The prisoners were subject to curfews. After a certain time they would all have to retreat to the cramped huts where they would sleep on 3-storey beds. A very effective morale boost in such restrictive circumstances was the fact that some prisoners had managed to procure radios, which had to kept secret of course, through which they could keep up to date with the war's progress.
On one occasion he broke his curfew, just stepping outside the hut to get some air. He spotted a fellow Dutch prisoner across the camp that evidently felt the same about the cramped conditions in the huts. Fred could see that the inmate was being harassed to return in to the hut. A guard was pushing him and knocked him in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle. The Dutch prisoner turned and struck the guard and another nearby guard witnessed this and shot the Dutchman dead. Naturally, after seeing this shocking act he made a hasty retreat into the hut and didn’t break his curfew again.
On another occasion, during a circuit of the camp, an allied aircraft flew low over their heads. It was shooting at a railway line just outside the premises of the camp and destroyed a goods-train that was being held there. Fred instinctively threw himself to the ground, and has said he had never been more in fear for his life than that moment – quite ironic that his scariest moment was the fault of an Allied aircraft!
One evening in February 1945 a Pathfinder plane, (target marking squadrons in RAF Bomber Command that located and marked targets with flares, which a main bomber force could aim at), dropped a flare over the camp. Granddad said the sky lit up and in a panic, fearing that the camp was about to be bombed, he jumped from his 3rd story bed and landed on his knee, which has caused him problems to this day. The bombers must have somehow realised that it was a not the intended target because no bombs were dropped. Instead, the planes were heading further east, as part of what history would remember as the cataclysmic bombing raids on Dresden. The morning after the raid, the POWs who had been members of the Royal Army Medical Core (which included Fred) were asked by the guards to go down to Dresden and help with injured victims of the devastation. However, the Infantry Regiment Sergeant refused to go and wouldn’t allow the others to leave the camp for their own safety; he feared that the survivors would lynch them.
Fred also remembers a few moments of comic relief. For example on one occasion an American pilot, bailing out of his stricken plane, landed quite conveniently right in the centre of the camp! He also remembers the concerts, performed by the inmates. He remembers these being very popular, particularly amongst the Americans. During one ‘season’, the camp commandant was invited to open the Theatre for the first performance. However, whilst he was inside the theatre, his driver was distracted with the offer of free cigarettes by the prisoners and a group of RAF prisoners stole the vehicles tools. The theatre was subsequently shut (temporarily)!
Eventually, the day arrived when the camp was liberated. Fred recalls that the Americans first liberated the camp until the Russians arrived, at which point they returned to their lines. The Russians transported the now ex-POWs to another camp further east. However he decided enough was enough of being told where to go and what to do, so he ‘escaped’, along with several others who had been in the camp and they travelled westward to the River Elbe, beyond which the Americans were in authority and there was a better chance of being sent home sooner. He travelled on foot and on his way he was welcomed into the home of an old German farmer to take food and rest.
He reached the US lines and was eventually transported to northern France. It was from here he was finally brought back to the UK on a Lancaster Bomber. He says he can remember looking out to see the White Cliffs of Dover greet his return. Some time afterwards, he discovered that his fellow POWs who had remained with the Russians had waited another 6 weeks to be transported home.Rebecca Stevens
Pte. Lancelot Jude Mathew 14th Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsMy Father was born in Calcutta India 1920. Lancelot Jude Mathew He joined the British Indian Army in 1939. I do not have much information about his service. I have a photo of my father in a Group it has writing on the back - 28.3.1944 Italy 1944. Taken a few days before I get Posted from unit No 12 India Ambulance and Complete staff of Indian & British Personell (in workshop at B___ for Repairs.) Group Photo is in my possession. Dated He was also in Cortina, Italy at the end of the war. I believe he went to Burma but I don't have anything to support that belief. At the end of the war 1945 He was associated with 14th Field Ambulance and is photographed in Austria with other personel I have his discharge papers that were stamped in Aldersot UK 1946 showing his Service Number.Rhonda Mathew
Sydney James "Dick" Cursons Royal Army Medical CorpsMy London born husband's father Sydney James (Dick) Cursons was in the RAMC and was wounded at the landing at Dunkirk. He lost his left arm on that day when a shell burst nearby on the beach. We know nothing more of his war service, and would be grateful if anyone is able to help us with information please.Kerry Cursons
Pte. Colin Smyth Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father Colin Smyth was in the Medical Corps but was also a paratrooper. He had been at Dunkirk, North Africa and made operational drops in Sicily and then at Arnhem where he was wounded. He spent the rest of the war first in hospital in Germany and then at Stalag 11b Fallingbstel. My father died in 1997, aged 78.
I would be interested to hear from anyone whose links to Arnhem are similar.Richard Smyth
Sgt. Patrick Fitch 149 Field Ambulance (d.4th Sep 1944)Patrick Finch served with 149 Field Ambulance, RAMC and was killed in action on the 4th September 1944, aged 29. He is buried in Annoeullin Communal Cemetery and German Extension in France. Patrick was the son of John and Mary Fitch and the husband of Agnes P. Fitch, of Glasgow.S Flynn
Lt. Herbert Starling Manning Jacob 53rd Welsh DivMy father Herbert Jacob served with the 53rd Welsh Div at some stage. He was in Belgium and Wuppertal, and at Bergen Belsen. Does anyone remember him?Christine Coe
Pte. Henry "Snowy" Collinson HMHS St David Royal Army Medical Corps (d.24th Jan 1944)The only thing about my father's service record which is known to me, is that he died when the St David was sunk at Anzio. His name was Henry Collinson
My Uncle Billy was also on board. As he went up to put a patient into the lifeboat, he met my father going below to evacuate another patient. Just then the ship received a direct hit, she sank very quickly. Uncle Billy survived, my father did not. I believe my father was a member of the surgical team. Anzio is only mentioned briefly in war stories, being overshadowed by the events at Monte Casino. So really any details of the St Davids is not know.Christine Jee
Pte. George Atkinson Royal Army Medical CorpsIn the months before the war, my father, George Atkinson was employed at Millom Iron works in Westmoreland, as a labourer, casting gun barrels for RN ships. Ironically, he was laid off because of a lack of orders. On the dole, he volunteered for the Army. This was on family advice; as relatives who had left it too late in WW1 had been conscripted into the infantry and ended up on the front line. As he had been educated at grammar school for one year after the age of 13, he had the extra literacy and numeracy skills, when he took his recruiting tests, to become a Nursing Orderly in the RAMC. This, he thought, would get him a cushy number. Unfortunately, he was posted to a Field Ambulance Unit serving on the front line throughout the war. He served in the Middle-East, Far-East and Italy; seeing active service at El-Alamein, in Burma and Monte Casino.
As a regular he was not de-mobbed in 1945,but went on to work in a British military hospital in Belgium until 1947. When he left the Army he worked for Glaxo making antibiotics until his retirement in 1980- a medical advance he witnessed first hand in the middle-east in 1941-42. My father died in 1985 aged 66. I know a great deal about his service - even though he hardly ever spoke of it to the rest of the family - because I was determined to join the Army myself as a boy soldier. He made it his business to tell me about his experiences and leave me without any doubt about life in the Army. I know he was trying, in his way, to put me off. Nevertheless I joined the Royal Artillery.George Atkinson
Douglas Arthur Collings Royal Army Medical CorpsMy father, Douglas Arthur Collings, served in North Africa and Italy with the Ambulance Corps. I am looking for any information.Robert A.D Collings
Pte. Maurice Nolan Royal Army Medical CorpsMy uncle, Maurice Nolan, born 1913 Limerick, Ireland, served as a medic in France during World War 2. Maurice survived but had shell shock. I am looking for information on his war recordAnn Keating
Mjr. Henry Holzner MC. Royal Army Medical CorpsMy mother, Joyce Ffoulkes Parry, whose posthumous war time journal of a QA sister in the Middle and Far East has just been published, knew Major Henry Holzner MC RAMC. I am very keen to trace any relatives of his. The book is Joyce's WarRhiannon Evans
Arthur Wong Royal Army Medical CorpsArthur Wong was stationed in Johor. He was a friend of my father's, and Arthur wrote to us in England when we were young. He signed his name as Wong Arthur.
I would love to know what happened to him.Joan Harrison
Pte. William Ruddy Royal Army Medical CorpsI know my father William Ruddy joined the army in August 1936 in Bradford & served for some time in India before becoming a PoW in Singapore. My father died in 1957 when I was only 2 years old so I know very little about him. Any information would be greatly appreciated.John Ruddy
Pte. William Crawford 14th Light Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical CorpsTo Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, and honor those that fell. I thought I would share this with you, about a certain 13 men. This is photo of my Grandad, William Crawford's war diary written in 1942 as they where retreating from the Germans in the North Africa Campaign being pushed East towards the Suez Canal near El Alamein. He was part of the 7th Armoured Division the 'Desert Rats'.
Black Friday 29th May 1942: 'We are still on the move, buried Jerry prisoner. 4.30pm Dived bombed and machine gunned by Stukhas, 13 of our lads killed, 10 wounded, burying the bodies, stayed behind with MDS (medical dressing station) Surrender to Jerry if necessary, 3.30am buried Private Thomas, can't evacuate wounded, going to be surrounded'
Saturday 30th: '6.30 Trying to make our way out, carrying wounded, arrived on coast above Tobruk, lost 2 ambulances, 2 lorries, got first nights sleep for 4 nights, battle still raging'.
Sunday 31st: 'Had parade to lay and find particulars of missing and killed. 3.30 went to sea for bathing not been able to wash for days. 8.30 Had memorial service.
The names of the 13, are listed on the 2nd photo of the diary entry. Killed:
- Pte. Masefield
- Pte. Rodd
- Pte. Hunt
- Pte. Cook
- Pte. Thomas
- Pte. Haveridge
- Pte. Lyons
- Pte. Stringer
- Drv. Payne
- Drv. Taylor
- & others
- Cpl. Byers
- Cpl Hughes
- Cpl Easton
- Pte. Hughes
- Pte Cornell
- Pte ???
- Pte. Heneby
- Pte. Morris
- Sgt. Harnom
- & othersNeil Crawford
Sgt. Andrew Hall Smith 13th Field Hygene Section Royal Army Medical CorpsOn 12th of Jun 1940 Sgt Andrew Hall Smith was at St Valerie and was taken POW, (POW No. 18007). He arrived at Stalag XXA, Thorn, Germany on 10th of July 1940. He was sent to Stalag XXB Marienburg on 9th of October 1941 and back to Stalag XXA on 13th of October 1943. He was repatriated on 13th of October 1944James Smith
RSM. Albert Edward Townsend Royal Army Medical CorpsRSM. A.E.Townsend was captured near Dunkirk. He was marched to Stalag 10A then to Stalag 8B. He was repatriated in 1944.Alan
Pte. John Richard Ashdown Royal Army Medical Corps (d.7th Aug 1944)Uncle Jack Ashdown served with the RAMC during WW2. The ship he was on was sunk and he is remembered at Bayeux, France.Patricia Shepherd
Available at discounted prices.
Joyce's War: The Second World War Journal of a Queen Alexandra Nurse
Joyce Ffoulkes ParryThank goodness that Joyce ignored the then military censors and kept a war diary because we learn so much from her diary which is so easily read in this book edited by her daughter, Professor Emeritus Rhiannon Evans , who has painstakingly presented her mother's words into this Voices From History book for The History Press. In addition this is a fine and rare example of a member of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) who not only served for almost the whole of World War Two but also served in different areas and locations such as ambulance trains, hospital ships such as HMHS Karapara and in Casualty Clearing Stations and hospitals such as the 47th British General Hospital in Calcutta. Few books exist about nursing in the Far East and we are very fortunate to be able to read about conditions and patient treatments in these regions which include Egypt and India. If, like me, you have an interest in military nursing history then this is the book for you bMore information on:
Joyce's War: The Second World War Journal of a Queen Alexandra Nurse
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